2011 Launches: Part 1
Today is the first day of the new season, so Happy New Year to you! Festivities out of the way, let’s get down to the business of what the new year brings. This is the first chance the teams gets to put rubber on the track after a long off-season since the sun set in Abu Dhabi. We start the year off in Valencia, but before we get to the results of the first testing session, we’ve got to have a look at the new cars that have been launched so far. I hope you’re mature enough to take this on, high levels of adult content coming up…
Ferrari were the first off the line with their oddly named F150, this team do not do continuity. For example they’ve had the F2008 (2008), F60 (2009) and F10 (2010)…but at least the F150 does have a somewhat logical reasoning behind it. It’s been named for the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy, and the new livery will feature the Tricolore as well. However before we start gushing about the 2011 campaign challenger, this is not the final cut. Ferrari themselves have said that this is far from what we’ll see in Bahrain. So as it stands the livery is pretty much set, and the car carries on from its predecessors where they keep it simple regarding the new regulations. This more literal take has been an approach that Ferrari has taken to championship winning heights.
The buzz-words for Renault during development were clearly along the lines of ‘risk’ and ‘innovate’, as once we got past the new livery the main question was where on earth did the exhaust exit? Speculation is all we have now but on thing is certain, it doesn’t come out at the rear, which leads commentators to suggest that this could be Renault’s secret weapon for the season.Renault themselves have said that they are intending to keep the exhaust configuration under wraps for as long as possible to avoid other teams copying, what they call, ‘radical’. The first day of testing offered inconclusive results, but with this only being ‘day one’ of the longest season yet, they’re not going to give it all away that easily.
Now completely without their partnership with BMW, the team is now running independently and have corrected issues with ride height and the Ferrari engine that hampered their chances last year. They decided during the 2010 season to pull their focus from the current car (C29) and concentrate on the C30, this seems to have been the right choice as if all goes well, they can expect to be mixing up as a solid mid-field team. However, it’s hard to miss the livery, much maligned by some Formula One fans already. Compared to what we’ve seen so far, it’s a bit uninspired, but at least they’ve got some more sponsors!
Big changes afoot at Lotus for the year, they swapped out their Cosworth engine for a V8 Renault instead, and also bought in a Red Bull gearbox. Not only this, but chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne is certain that Team Lotus will be making the leap from the bottom end of the standings to become a mid-field team. This is such a huge claim to make so early on, and seems to be a reaction to the long standing issue between them and Group Lotus.
Although the pictures team Lotus have provided us with seems to have a multi-storey carpark as the backdrop, the main point of contention is the split air intake. Originally developed by Mercedes GP, the German team claimed it provided better flow to the rear wing, but the focus was on whether it was legal. Confirmation from far more technically minded people than me have confirmed it does conform.
Red Bull: RB7
The 2010 champions unveiled their attempt at defending their title. Adrian Newey claimed the introduction of the KERS system was the ‘big challenge’ during development. And talking of development, Newey had the same time to complete the design, but the factory staff had to sacrifice parts of Christmas to get it ready in time. Let’s hope it was worth it. Like most of the other launched cars this week, it features a higher nose, it also features a higher engine cover and modified fin.
Toro Rosso: STR6
Unveiled to the media a mere 20 minutes after the RB7, Toro Rosso’s bid for mid-field glory seemed like a re-run of last year’s STR5. The livery is stunning as always, hand-painted stylised bull echoing its older sisters paint job. One notable mention is the size of the rear wing compared to other efforts turned out today. It’s a bit of a lump sticking out the back, and with Team Lotus making radical changes Toro Rosso could find themselves struggling to keep hold of their mid-field position. Eagle eyes Formula One fans have also noticed deeply undercut sidepods, which Ferrari found to be unsuccessful one of their ’90s efforts.
The team teased the fans by releasing a digital rendering of the new the weekend before the official launch in Valencia. The front first shot didn’t give much away, apart from the prevalence of the Petronas sponsorship on this years livery. It has been widely reported that during last season the team halted the development of the W01, to concentrate on the newly revealed W02. The higher nose features on this car like others, it also features changes to the airbox and sidepods. And as mentioned above, the livery displays a larger proportion of the Petronas green.
As was announced early, the livery Williams in running in Valencia is an interim paint job and will released later on. With the added bonus of a solid sponsorship deal that came with the new driver, and the ambition to become frontrunners again, higher levels of R&D have been key. The team’s key word for the 2011 season is ‘aggressive’ and it’s how the car itself have been described by its drivers and technical team. This is merely the first version and they aim to have a new aerodynamic package by Bahrain, supported by a consistent stream of upgrades at each race. It’ll be interesting to see what the new cash injection will do for the team as a whole.